Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Creamy China Trees

Darling brown and white trees from the thrift store. I can't believe I dithered back and forth for two weeks before I dropped the fifty cents and bought them.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It Starts in the Kitchen

True, I am cooking out of these, but also true that it's satisfying to put away all the cookbooks that *aren't* red and green, just for the season. Bring on a little bit of festive!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Wool Plaid Bucket Bag

I found some subtle wool plaid in my stash, and matched it with a brown and blue cotton print, and made up this bucket bag. Usually I like to keep my bags on the floppy side, but this one is interfaced to be fairly structured. I love the gigantic covered button--I had some from the thrift store and couldn't imagine them on a garment.

But a bag, yes! And it's in the shop tonight.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Daisy, Waif

Oh, this girl. Channelling a French street waif today as she test-drives the new Christmas ensemble cardigan from her grandmother.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Even If, and Camellias at Thanksgiving

"Though the fig tree should not blossom,
And there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail,
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold,
And there be no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will exult in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation."

Habakkuk 3:17-18

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Array of Amaryllis

Amaryllis bulbs potted up in milk glass, college boy's laundry all done, cornbread crumbled up in a big bowl on the counter for tomorrow's dressing, movie and popcorn all together.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Grape Twill: Vintage Advance 7111

Beautiful deep purple color, rhinestone buckle I've been saving for the right occasion, ready for church.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Raspberry Ripple

Managing one last ripple afghan out of the yarn remnants. This one is all ice cream colors and totally reminding me of a Baskin-Robbins scoop my mother got once called Baseball Nut. Or something. All I remember is that it had a vivid raspberry ripple in it, just like this blanket.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Blue-Embroidered Strip Quilt

A strip quilt, crib size, pieced by machine, out of linen, wool, and cotton.

Hand-quilted in bright teal embroidery floss. In the shop next week, or e-mail if you're interested.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Vintage Thanksgiving Inspiration

"The turkey was stuffed and placed in the roasting pan ready for the oven. The celery was cleaned, washed, rolled in a damp napkin, and placed in the refrigerator. The squash, cut and peeled, was left standing in a saucepan of cold water, as were the potatoes and onions. The creamed macaroni, covered with buttered crumbs, was in a baking dish ready for its final browning. Even the tiny sausages which, all brown and crispy, were to garnish the turkey, were ready for the frying pan. . . . Lemon, orange, and pineapple juices were mixed for the mint cup; ginger ale and soda, which were to be added when it was ready to serve, were at hand."

--Emilie Loring, Forever and a Day

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tangerines in Milk Glass

Milk glass and dresser scarf from the thrift store, fruit from the grocery store.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Polished Day Dress in Twill: Vintage Advance 7111

This quickly became Clara's defining pattern for the season--I've made three and have one left to go. Hancock's has a rack of absolutely beautiful cotton twills right now, in muted jewel colors, and the weight and hand of the fabric is perfect for this softly tailored pattern.

Selling points of this dress include the soft pleats that release from under the collar, the fitted waist, and the dramatic flair of the skirt (great for cello). To fit this tall girl I added half an inch to the bodice, and three inches to the skirt length.

We tacked the 3/4 sleeves on from another 1950s pattern.

You will be seeing this again soon in navy, grape, and forest green . . . .

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It Is Well

Suddenly my best friend Carol is losing her mother-in-law. Just like that, to cancer. Veda has never smoked; she outlived tuberculosis back in the day; she's forever been a stick of crocheting dynamite. But she got sick in September, and lost her voice, and last week the doctor found cancer everywhere in her lungs.

So beautiful to see her grown children move in, on and around her, in her modest trailer, with the photos of her kids and grandkids and greatgrandkids taped to the walls. The couch and recliner are always full of ladies crocheting, of young moms tending babies. And huge Stephen, her biggest grandson, crocheting too.

One Sunday this summer she came twinkling up to the Composer after church. "Thank you for playing those songs. I want those hymns at my funeral. The happy ones." He pulled out his ever-present Note to Self card and wrote them down, and labelled it Veda. I saw it out on his desk yesterday.

Hospice starts tomorrow. Her daughter tells me over and over, "It is well with her soul." It is.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Auditioning in the Living Room

Time to tape the college auditions. The Composer is so good at that type of thing, and has the equipment--I always wonder how other families get it done.

I love this screen shot; it looks like Clara is doing some sort of cello grand jete, so beautifully.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Two Colette Blouses: The Violet and the Jasmine

I'm calling this a wearable muslin--I did it to check the fit and the construction before using nice fabric. It went together beautifully, and the center back and front seams are a lovely and easy shaping detail. No buttons or zipper, for you faint of heart!

Made up in a hilariously old-lady crepey fabric from a box of sewing goodies. I suspect it's all polyester; it's certainly spongy and it doesn't hold a pressing.

My favorite detail, and one I will lift for other garments, is the little center-front loop that the ties thread through. Makes them lie perfectly!

And Colette's Violet blouse, in a medium-weight linen. This blouse is cut much looser, with a dart for shaping, and a back yoke.

First I made it up according to the pattern, and then I decided for the seven thousandth time that I can't really stand to wear collars, so I cut it off. I used the bold method of standing in front of a mirror in the shirt and drawing on myself with a ballpoint pen; going to the sewing room and cutting on the line; and then binding everything with some bias binding.

Leaving my raspberry candy buttons intact, of course.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Running, Resting, and Cleaning

Friday has always been my rest day from running. Monday through Thursday I run or work out at the gym, Saturday is the long run. Friday is the day off that enables me to crank out the seven or eight miles on Saturday morning.

This fall I discovered that rest day is perfect for cleaning. I get up, and I automatically feel ready to expend a great deal of energy right at 7:30, in stretchy clothes. This translates into a perfect time to do all my major housecleaning tasks. So I put on a running shirt and grubby pants and get to it. I always run before breakfast, so I usually do the worst cleaning before breakfast, too--all the bathrooms scrubbed. Then I keep on going, and if I focus I have the whole house done by 11:00 (with a break for Daisy's school and concurrent crochet, of course). Then take a bath. And have a cup of cocoa.

So glad to have discovered this reservoir of physical energy! This works great for me this year.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Oh, Applesauce!*

Wonderful harvest of late apples this year on my solitary tree, and I've made many pots of applesauce. It's so not hard, anyone can do this if 1. they have a food mill or 2. they don't mind peeling the apples. I do mind, and I have a food mill.

First rinse and quarter the apples, and cut the cores out. Leave the peels on unless you *want* the extra work. Fill your pot as full as you want (I go right to the top) and add about 3/4 inch of water. Put a lid on the pot, put it over medium heat, and let them cook until they are completely soft--about 45 minutes? My apples are hard and not very juicy, so I keep an eye on them, stirring every eight minutes or so, and adding water if the mess seems to be getting too dry.

Yep, that's it. Time to take them off the heat and run them through the food mill--that's the fun part. Probably your youngest child will want to help turn the handle a time or two.

There you go. I freeze mine in freezer containers and the girls doctor each bowlful with brown sugar and cinnamon. None of the grownups in this house like applesauce, actually, but the children make up for it.

*If you don't read as much vintage fiction as some, you might not be aware that "Applesauce!" was a snappy comeback used by sassy teens in the thirties.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Baby Granny Squares, with Piecrust Frill

I think I love crocheting more than knitting. It's just not as tense. You can rip out stitches without the world falling apart. You can add on after deciding you had finished.

It has an improvisatory quality that my knitting sadly lacks.

The granny squares baby afghan is finished and in the shop. Help yourself!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

A Rainy Day Bouquet

Maple leaves as bright as flowers.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Daisy Hosts a Cocoa Party

It's true that I had to make the cocoa, and pour it, and the girls carried the trays, but Daisy did everything else. It was her idea.

Cocoa, and animal crackers in egg cups, and all five of us, outside, under the maple tree.

This was on Sunday afternoon.

We used the pretty china. And everyone's egg cup had a name tag in it. She didn't want to hurt any feelings by giving them an egg cup in a color not their favorite.

So yes, that worked out.

No one was sad.

Just glad to be at Daisy's cocoa party.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Love You More: The Divine Surprise of Adopting My Daughter

I adored Jennifer Grant's delightful memoir about her family's journey through the adoption process. Fascinating that others have experienced a call so similar to my own--that word from God that the next baby will come through adoption. That divine tap on the shoulder that suggests when, and eventually where, and then, at last, places that child in your arms.

Jennifer is a fluent and entertaining writer--I loved her stories, small digressions (always worth the little rabbit trail), and the glimpses into an intelligent, humorous, and compassionate family culture.

As she notes, all happy families are *not* the same (sorry, Tolstoy), and meeting her family made me richer, for sure.

Find it here.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Bright November Afternoon

A new friend with tiny children (hurray!), ginger shortbread, sunshine, clean house, packages mailed, weekend ahead.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

A Sewing Lull

Having just finished a black watch plaid wool dress for Clara I am ready for a little lull. After a large, complicated project it's nice to faff around doing a little of this and a little of that in the sewing room. Mending, trimming thrift store dresses into blouses, replacing buttons. Nothing too big.

Meanwhile Clara enjoys her new vintage Advance dress (above pattern, with sleeves added). It's the same pattern I used here, and I found a perfect vintage buckle for it in the stash--it's actually greenish black, just like the fabric it's sitting on.

Pictures soon!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

An Autumn Dress for Bella: Vintage McCall 7977

In a heavy cotton tweed, this pattern will work well with a cardigan over it for cold weather.

It's in the big collar/big pocket tradition. So handy for carrying big small things around.

Hm, I see that I need to make or find a belt, soon! Other than that, it's great.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Soft and Thriftie Baby Blankie

Two skeins of soft teal alpaca were a gift, the crisp dark cotton was a gift from the thrift store. It's the oddest yarn--not spun from fibers apparently, but formed like rope! It crochets up with a firm, crisp, smooth texture, delicious with the fluffy deep alpaca as its neighbor.

(Maria, this one's for you and your nephew!)

New Pillows in the Shop

Visit my shop stuffed with pillows!

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